Must see: Otello, Grand Theatre, Leeds
Swept away by an elemental and electrifying experience
By the time Verdi was writing this opera, in his early seventies, he had dispensed with preludes, and this greatest of tragic operas opens with a cataclysmic orchestral explosion.
In Tim Albery's intelligent production for Opera North and Scottish Opera, the electrifying moment is not missed and we are swept into the sea-storm from which Otello emerges. The tenor Ronald Samm handles this demanding entrance with authority, and he has the vocal resources to sustain a taxing part.
The action is set in a US naval base in the 1950s, or possibly the British military occupation of Cyprus. It works well. David Kempster is clever, clear and commanding as an older-than-usual Iago, while Elena Kelessidi grows into the part of Desdemona.
Orchestra and chorus, under the dynamic direction of Richard Farnes, are on superb form. This is an overwhelming Otello: no Verdi lover will want to miss it.
(0844 848 2700); then touring (operanorth.co.uk) in rep to 16 Feb
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